25 ways to make yourself unpopular: #16 Don’t use technology

As an exponent of educational technology, are you expected to use technology all the time? The answer is probably “yes”. But should you?

I always carry a notebook around with me. In one school I worked in as Head of ICT, I was “caught” writing a reminder to myself in it – and was rewarded the following morning with a spoof letter in my inbox. Signed by the Principal, it regretted that he would have to reconsider my continued employment at the school seeing as it had been brought to his attention that I had been found using old technology! Obviously, this was a joke, but it did indicate that my colleagues’ expectation was that I would always be an advocate of using technology. To decide not to use it may not have made me unpopular as such, but would possibly have raised eyebrows – especially amongst those members of my team who liked to “bang the drum” about technology whenever they had an opportunity.

The key issue, of course, is not using technology, but to use appropriate technology. Given the choice between (in those days) firing up a computer, starting a Word document, typing my memo and then printing it, or jotting it down in a pocket notebook, the decision was a no-brainer. These days, of course, it’s possible to record a voice memo, jot a note down in a notebook that will record it electronically (see Review of the Livescribe Pulse Smart Pen for example – I have a pocket notebook version of the notepad), send an email to yourself with your Smartphone, and so on.

Nevertheless, all that has happened is that the threshold of “appropriateness” has been changed: at some point, there will always be a choice of what sort of technology is most appropriate to use. Interestingly, last night I watched an episode of NCIS in which there was a prolonged power cut. The only person who could cope well was Gibbs, their technologically-challenged boss. No charge in the digital camera? No problem: use a Polaroid instead. No photocopier working? No problem: use a Gestetner instead.

Being old-fashioned may not immediately strike you as being a good strategy for a tech-evangelist, but sometimes it really is!